Food Issues in Adopted Children

Food issues are common with children adopted from foster care or adopted internationally-hoarding, overeating, under eating, picky eating? What should adoptive parents do to help their children? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Dr. Julian Davies, pediatrician at the University of Washington Adoption Medicine Clinic; and Dr. Katja Rowell, the Feeding Doctor and author of the book Love Me, Feed Me.

Hit the Highlights
  • What are some of the diseases and disorders that poor nutrition can cause?
  • What is the critical time for nutrition to support brain development?
  • How does prenatal malnutrition affect the child’s brain?
  • How does malnutrition or poor nutrition in the first year of life affect cognitive functioning?
  • Is poor nutrition or malnourishment only an issue for children living in orphanages abroad or adopted internationally?
  • Gretchen: We adopted our son at age 20 months from foster care. Actually, the adoption was complete last month when he was 2.5, but he was living with us starting at 20 months. He was very small in height and weight for his age. We know he was very neglected by his birth parents, but we don’t know anything specific about his nutrition either before or after birth. What should we be looking for and how should we help him catch up? He is a picky eater, but he is gaining weight, but is still very short.
  • What are some of the signs of malnourishment that adoptive parents should be aware of for a child that was malnourished prenatally?
  • What are some of the signs of malnutrition in infancy?
  • When a newly adopted child is undergoing a growth spurt post adoption, how can parents support this growth so that the child does not deplete his meager store of iron and micronutrients?
  • Internationally, what countries do you see with the greatest nutrition issues in the children being adopted to the US?
  • My daughter was adopted in 2007 as a 1.5 year old from Guatemala. We were told that she was given store bought cow milk all of her life other than infant formula. And also watered down coffee. Can this cause long term problems?
  • Why are children in either neglectful homes or orphanages at risk for Vitamin D insufficiency and what can that cause?
  • What are some typical feeding issues with adopted children and what can parents do?
  • Why do some children have a hard time swallowing and chewing when there is nothing physically wrong with the child’s mouth or throat? What can parents do to help the child?
  • Food hoarding is not an uncommon problem with newly adopted kids especially if food was not always reliable and consistent in their prior life. How should parents handle this complex and often vexing problem?
  • What are some good general tricks for adoptive parents that crucial first year home in feeding their kids?
  • What is the best approach to handling extreme pickiness with children?
  • How to handle if kids only want to eat junk food?
  • In orphanages, children are often fed very fast. How does this affect a child’s eating habits? Pushy feeding?
  • Should parents allow their children to play with their food?
  • How to slow down a child’s eating?
  • Should you ever force feed your child?

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Image Credit: Michael Stern

Show originally aired in 2012.